LACONIA — The New Hampshire Department of Employment Security (DES) has projected jobs to increase 10.5 percent throughout the state during the decade between 2012 and 2022, but Dennis Delay of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies suggests that an aging population and shrinking workforce could limit the growth of employment.
The DES projected job growth for each of the nine planning regions in the state. The Rockingham planning region set the pace with an increase of 14.7 percent, followed closely by the Southern planning region at 14.1 percent. Employment in the Upper Valley is projected to expand 10.2 percent, in the Nashua and Strafford planning regions by 9.5 percent and by 9.2 percent in the Central planning region. The agency projected employment in the Lakes Region to grow 6.3 percent , ahead of the 4.8 percent pace in the North Country and Southwest regions. The Lakes Region planning district includes the cities of Laconia and Franklin and 28 towns in Belknap, Carroll, Grafton and Merrimack counties.
However, Delay points out that between 2010 and 2025 the population of working age, between the ages 25 and 64, will decrease in all nine regions. The steepest decline of 12.9 percent is projected for the North County followed by a 9.2 percent drop projected for the Lakes Region. Without dismissing the projections of the DES, Delay described the aging demographic as "a limiting factor" on the growth of employment.
The city of Laconia and 10 towns of Belknap County all lie within the Lakes Region. Projections prepared for the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning by RLS Demographics of Rensselaerville, N.Y., indicate that the working age population of Belknap County will shrink from 33,543 in 2010 to 31,409 by 2025, a decline of 6.4 percent, and to slide another 2.6 percent to 30,577 by 2040.